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Ben Pauling admits emotions may get the better of him if Bright Forecast claims victory in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
After Willoughby Court – who sadly died from a bone infection earlier this year – provided Pauling with his first Cheltenham Festival success in the Grade One prize in 2017, he is hoping Bright Forecast can win the same race.
Not only would it be a poignant success for the Bourton-on-the-Water trainer, it would too for members of the Aldaniti Partnership after former owner Nick Embiricos passed away in November.
Just days later, Bright Forecast made a winning debut at Newbury.
Pauling said: “It would be emotional if Bright Forecast wins – but it is emotional if you win any race at the Festival.
“I know in my heart of hearts, with a bit of luck on my side, you could have had Willoughby Court in a Gold Cup or a Ryanair (this year).
“I think for everyone it would mean a lot – considering they (connections) lost Nick in November. He was a very special man to everyone, and this was the last horse he was involved in, so it would be amazing.”
After Bright Forecast lost his unbeaten record over hurdles when finding only Mister Fisher too strong in a Grade Two at Haydock, Pauling believes the step up to two miles five furlongs will help bring out more improvement in the five-year-old.
He said: “I think we always knew he would improve going up in trip, and I didn’t think his jumping would necessarily at this stage stand a Supreme test (over two miles).
“He seems in very good order, and I think (jockey) Nico (de Boinville) will be able to ride him – which is good, because he is quite an exuberant horse.
“Having won it with it Willoughby, he wouldn’t be far behind him. If he relaxes into it and jumps properly he will have a right squeak.”
Pauling believes his dual Grade Two winner Global Citizen is far from a forlorn hope in the Unibet Champion Hurdle either, despite the seven-year-old failing to feature on his previous two attempts at the top table.
He said: “He can do no more than what he did last time out at Haydock. He wasn’t right when he ran in the Christmas Hurdle, and he only got beaten 13 lengths.
“I hope if he comes to the second-last in contention we will see what he can do. If he nicked a place I would be utterly thrilled. He is in fabulous form, and a strong pace will suit him down to the ground.”
An outing in the JLT Novices’ Chase may not have been the initial plan for Kildisart, who is two from three over fences – but Pauling is optimistic the seven-year-old can make his presence felt in the Grade One.
He added: “Unfortunately, winning here on trials day ruled us out of the Close Brothers (handicap). He did win a little cosliy that day, and he has been put up to 147.
“He would need to improve to win a JLT – but the way he locked on going to the second-last here on trials day, if he does that at the Festival he will have a right old squeak.”